I’ve been working on a few different versions of this post. This week has been a week of extremes and I know that many people read my blog to see awesome pictures of the kids but I also want this blog to be an honest depiction of life on mission. It can be hard. And this week was definitely a hard one at times.
There was no one factor that created the situation but more a combination. The biggest was the fact that I had to work this past weekend at an agriculture expo. It went really well: we sold a lot of jam and talked to a lot of people about the Salesians and what we are doing here in Lubumbashi. However they were easily 11+ hour days and I had to work the entire week before and then Monday through Thursday afterwards. I also started French classes last week (yes I have been here for almost 2.5 months – long story) and this past Tuesday I had a minor breakdown in class. It’s an individual class so I only made a fool of myself in front of the professor but it was definitely a low point. She could not have been nicer or more understanding for which I am endlessly thankful.
Having low points is not new or unexpected for people on mission. We talked about it a lot during my training. But drawing a picture of what we think our emotional trajectory will be and sobbing in French class are two totally different things. It’s hard. It’s hard when everyday I have the feeling that I could have done more or done better and that I don’t have the ability to fully explain myself in this new language. My grasp of French is getting better, I do recognize that, but I still have many moments where I cannot express what I want to say and am left feeling frustrated and useless. Unfortunately the exhaustion from the past few months plus the frustration combined this week and I had a rough 24 hours.
Thankfully I have a great support system here and back in America and with rereading letters of encouragement people had written me before I left and getting hugs from my fellow volunteers here plus a day off on Friday I was able to reset. Friday night was also a birthday party here at the Procure for me. My birthday is next week but I have to work the day after my birthday so I didn’t want to have the party that night. It was absolutely amazing. There were about 50 people that came and the Congolese know how to throw a party. I invited people and the priests (my community) organized it all. There was a DJ and music playing all the time. Lots and lots of dancing, even while singing Happy Birthday (Joyeaux Anniversaire) as evidenced below (the child I’m holding is the two year old son of another volunteer):
I was also introduced to the Congolese tradition of gift-giving during a birthday party. They play this game that is a little complicated to explain but basically they sing a song that goes: cadeau, cadeau, cadeauuuu (which is French for gift) and then they have to sing a lyric that rhymes with cadeau. Usually this involves a joke of some sort and they pass the gift to someone else to continue the song instead of giving it to the birthday guy/gal. My co-workers in particular thought this was the funnest game and passed it to all 5 of them before giving it to me. You can check out Pierre singing his part below:
It was absolutely wonderful and so much fun. We danced and laughed and it was the best way to cap off a crazy, exhausting two weeks!!
Have a wonderful weekend everyone and get some rest!
PS – I hope the embedded YouTube videos work! Thanks Aaron for the tech support!!